Moral Low Ground


Myrna Arias Claims Intermex Fired her for Deleting GPS Tracker on Work Phone

Xora StreetSmart screen grab (Xora/iTunes)

Xora StreetSmart screen grab (Xora/iTunes)

A California woman claims her boss forced her to install a smartphone app that tracked her location 24 hours a day, and then fired her after she deleted it.

CNN Money reports Myrna Arias is suing her former employer, Intermex, a wire transfer service for customers sending money to Latin America, alleging the company violated her privacy, wrongfully terminated her and engaged in unfair business practices. Arias is seeking $500,000 in lost wages and damages.

Arias, a 36-year-old single mother from Bakersfield, was employed as a sales executive account manager, traversing California’s Central Valley, which is heavily populated by immigrants and migrant workers from Mexico and Central America, visiting bodegas and Hispanic business owners to pitch Intermex machines.

To keep track of its traveling employees, Intermex relies on Xora StreetSmart, which lets workers clock in and out, fill out forms and log trips. The app also tracks user location with GPS technology, sending the information back to supervisors.

According to a lawsuit filed in Kern County Superior Court, Intermex forced Arias and other employees to install Xora on their smartphones and told them they needed to keep their phones on all day, every day. The suit says her boss, regional vice president of sales John Stubits, “admitted that employees would be monitored while off duty, and bragged that he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she had installed the app on her phone.”

“[Arias] expressed that she had no problem with the app’s GPS function during work hours, but she objected to the monitoring of her location during non-work hours,” Arias’ court filing states. “She likened the app to a prisoner’s ankle bracelet and informed Stubits that his actions were illegal. Stubits replied that she should tolerate the illegal intrusion because Intermex was paying [her more than her previous employer].”

“She was offended that the app would track her when she was at home with her family doing personal, private things on the weekends,” Arias attorney Gail Glick told CNN Money. “What business is it of my employer whether I go visit my grandmother?” Glick asked. “Or go to a bar? Or travel out of town for the weekend? None. It feels like big brother.”

Arias and another Intermex employee eventually decided to delete Xora from their smartphones. A few weeks later, both workers were fired.

ClickSoftware, the company that makes Xora StreetSmart, also apparently believes the app should only be used at work, explaining that “field employees” should launch the app “when [they] start their day.”

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